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Iran pardons 'spy' Swedes

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14:30 CEST+02:00
Iran on Monday pardoned two Swedish nationals jailed for photographing military installations last year and will release them later in the day, a spokesman for the foreign ministry in Tehran has said.

"Within the framework of the humanitarian efforts of Iran and following the requests of the family and repeated requests from Swedish politicians... they have been pardoned and will be freed at 6:00 pm" (1530 GMT), foreign ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini said in a statement.

The two men, named as Stefan Johanssen and Jari Hjortmar, were arrested in March 2006 for taking pictures of military installations on Iran's southern island of Qeshm and sentenced to two years in prison.

Their release comes less than two weeks after 15 British naval personnel held by Iran on accusations of illegally entering Iranian waters were suddenly pardoned and released.

Two other Europeans, German tourist Donald Klein and French boat skipper Stephane Lherbier, were also both freed earlier this year before completing 18-month sentences for violating Iran's territorial waters.

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